Articles Posted in Massachusetts Supreme Court

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In 2008, candidates for the U.S. presidency and vice-presidency collected signatures on nomination papers throughout the Commonwealth. The papers bore the political designation "Libertarian." The candidates failed to secure the indorsement of the national Libertarian party at its convention. The Libertarian Association of Massachusetts contacted the Secretary of the Commonwealth and requested that the names of the persons who won the party indorsement be substituted for the names of the candidates listed on the nomination papers. The Secretary refused. The federal trial court held that G. L. c. 53, 14, which governs filling a vacancy where a candidate nominated for "state, city or town office" withdraws, dies, or otherwise becomes ineligible prior to election, was unconstitutionally vague. On remand, the judge stayed the vagueness claim pending a state court clarification. Plaintiffs then sought a state court declaration that section 14 provides a minor party, which does not qualify as a "political party" under Massachusetts law, a means to "substitute" the names of candidates chosen at its national convention for those listed on nomination papers. After deciding to resolve the case, despite it being moot, the Massachusetts Supreme Court held that section 14 applies to presidential electors. Although the section is not a model of clarity, it requires that all candidates gather signatures. View "Libertarian Assoc. of MA v. Sec'y of the Commonwealth" on Justia Law

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This case involved the proper interpretation of a Massachusetts election law that governed the filing of a vacancy, where a candidate nominated for state, city or town office withdraws, dies, or otherwise becomes ineligible prior to an election, G.L.c. 53, section 14(14), and its application to the presidential and vice-presidential candidates of a minor political party. The court concluded that this matter was properly before the court where plaintiffs have established an actual controversy; section 14 applied to presidential electors and assumed by extension to the presidential and vice-presidential candidates the electors have pledged to support; although section 14, as written, was not a model of clarity and its meaning not without uncertainty, the court interpreted it in a manner largely consistent with the interpretation proffered by the Secretary; and finally, aligning the court's analysis under art. 9 with that of the equal protection clause, the court perceived no constitutional deficiency in the election law scheme. View "Libertarian Assoc. of Massachusetts & another v. Secretary of the Commonwealth" on Justia Law